A team of synthetic biologists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) recently discovered a way to increase the efficiency of synthetic mRNA protein production by up to tenfold. This means that the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines and drugs, such as those used to treat cancer, Covid-19, or other genetic diseases, will be significantly enhanced with even less mRNA dosage.
Because mRNAs can be generated to instruct human cells to produce any protein, such as antigens, enzymes, and hormones, which are vital in combating infections and regulating biological processes, mRNA is undoubtedly a preferable alternative for vaccinations and disease therapy. However, high dosages and repeated injections are frequently required for mRNA drugs and vaccines in order to generate a sufficient amount of protein in the body, so increasing mRNA’s effectiveness. For example, by increasing its protein production efficiency. It is a hot topic among scientists, as our immune system, for example, could work better with more specific antibodies.
A new method to increase synthetic mRNA production efficiency up to 10 times
A team led by Prof. Becki KUANG Yi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at HKUST, has developed a means to extend the life and efficiency of mRNA. Prof. Kuang’s team produced several mRNA tail sequences and finally identified optimised sequences that could produce 3 to 10 times as many proteins as unoptimized tail sequences routinely utilised for synthetic mRNAs on human and mouse cells. Protein synthesis time is also increased.
The team published the research, Cytidine-containing tails robustly enhance and prolong protein production of synthetic mRNA in cell and in vivo in the journal Molecular Therapy — Nucleic Acids.
This innovative method will not only minimise the volume and number of injections required for mRNA medications and vaccinations, but it may also slash treatment costs. It can also be used in conjunction with other mRNA enhancement methods to increase protein output in a synergistic manner.
Researchers’ Explanation of this new method
“Increasing synthetic mRNA protein synthesis is typically favourable to all mRNA medicines and vaccines,” Prof Kuang added. “Our team is now investigating the use of optimised tails for mRNA cancer vaccines on animals in partnership with Sun Yat-Sen University. We also hope to work with pharmaceutical firms to get our discovery into the pipelines of mRNA treatments and vaccines, which will help society.”
mRNA medications and vaccines have received a lot of attention in recent years because of their success in protecting us from severe cases of infectious illnesses like COVID-19 and their tremendous promise in treating chronic diseases like cancer. According to previous research, the worldwide mRNA therapeutics market was valued at $39.90 billion last year. And is predicted to grow further in the future decade.